Scheduled Monument

Hume Castle, castle and associated settlementSM387

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: castle; settlement, including deserted and depopulated and townships
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
Planning Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 70477 41396
370477, 641396


The monument is a castle and associated settlement remains. A church and village is first recorded at Hume in the 12th century with the earliest remains of the castle probably dating from the early 13th century. The castle was extensively destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's army in 1651 and was adapted as an eye-catcher in the late 18th century. The structure is visible as a substantial stone walled enclosure, quadrangular on plan, with fragmentary remains of the medieval castle within the enclosure and also within the lower walls and foundations. Around the foot of the castle and the surrounding slopes are the remains of an associated settlement. The monument is in a prominent location with extensive views across the Merse, at about 220m above sea level.

The castle is situated on a conspicuous rocky outcrop with precipitous crags on the northwest and steep slopes on all other sides; the only relatively easy access is from the southwest. The site takes advantage of steep natural ground and has commanding views of the area. The over-scaled battlements of the castle date to the late 18th century and were a recreation of the castle by the Earl of Marchmont as a picturesque feature in the landscape. The 18th century walls are, in places, built upon the earlier castle walls with some medieval walling evident. Medieval worked stone and openings, such as a garderobe chute and gunloops, were reused in building the folly. The structure measures approximately 40m by 45m with a section of medieval wall 8m long, 3m high and 1.5m wide in the centre of the enclosure, which appears to be the remains of a free-standing structure. The enclosure also contains traces of walls and platforms, and a well, probably of medieval origins, with squared masonry lining. The southwest corner of the structure has a beacon stance used during the Napoleonic Wars.

Surrounding the castle, located on the terraced slopes and relatively level ground at the base of the outcrop, are the remains of around 25 structures. Visible as earth and stone footings, the structures most likely present the remains of the medieval and early modern settlement associated with Hume Castle. Various structures have been identified; including houses, yards, paths, tracks and cultivation remains. A settlement at Hume was first recorded in 1138. In the mid-18th century it was recorded on William Roy's map of circa 1747-55 surrounding the castle but these buildings were cleared by the time the folly was constructed.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan and includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The schedule excludes all boundary walls, gates, post and wire fences and the top 30cm of the access path and stairs and handrails to the west of the castle. Also excluded from the schedule are all information plaques and boards, benches, the well grate covering and the stone memorial, metal railings and flag pole at the southwest of the folly.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is the remains of a medieval castle that was turned into an eye-catcher in the 18th century and an associated abandoned settlement. It is visible as a substantial stone walled structure with over-scaled battlements.  Although much of the enclosure walls of the castle appear to date to the 18th century and the creation of the folly, it is constructed on medieval stonework including features such as a garderobe chute, slits openings, gunloops and other openings.  Within the enclosure there is a portion of medieval walling, possible the remains of a freestanding tower, and there would have been other structures built up against the inside of the enclosure. On either side of the main enclosure, terraces indicate the likely locations of outer courtyards. The associated settlement is visible on the lower slopes of the outcrop, evident as earth and stone footings of buildings, sunken paths, tracks, terraced yards and cultivation remains. 

The walls of the structure are in a stable condition. Grass covered mounds of masonry, traces of walls and platforms, both within and outwith the castle enclosure, indicate there is good potential for the survival of buried structures and archaeological deposits, artefacts and ecofacts within, beneath and around the castle, and on the terraces. The buried archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about the date and character of the site, while any artefacts and ecofacts would enhance understanding of the economy, diet and social status of the occupants, as well as provide information about contemporary landuse and environment.

In Scotland, castles built in the 12th century tended to be constructed of earth and timber. Some of these sites subsequently had stone castles constructed on the same location. The naturally strong rock outcrop at Hume would always have been a suitable site for fortification and documentary evidence for a church and settlement at Hume in the first half of 12th century suggests that the site may already have been the site of some form of castle at this time. However, the simple quadrangular stone enclosure is typical of 13th century masonry castles and it is not possible to positively identify masonry earlier than this date. The dumb-bell gunloop on the western wall being typical of 15th century defensive architecture and it is recorded that the queen of James II stayed at Hume Castle during the siege of Roxburgh in 1460 – the castle was clearly well established by this time. The medieval castle was therefore occupied over several hundred years and would have undergone some measure of adaptation during this period of use. Study of the form, construction and development of the medieval castle could add to our understanding of the chronology of the site, including its date of origin, the nature of any structures and later re-use.

The associated settlement has its origins in the medieval period and was occupied until the late 18th century. The remains of the settlement survive as earth and stone footings and are in a stable condition. The character and dimensions of the structures in the settlement, their positioning around the castle and along with historical documentary evidence of the site, support the theory that they are the remains of a settlement which originated in the medieval period. It is possible that the visible above ground remains date to after the castle was abandoned after the siege of 1651. If this is the case, it remains significant as the settlement is likely to have continuity, and periodic or permanent occupancy, from the medieval until the 18th Century.  Further scientific investigation could help us understand the relationship between the castle and the settlement.

Contextual Characteristics

Possibly dating to the 12th century, Hume Castle is an early example of a castle. Many early castles were associated with the establishment of Anglo-Norman lordships during and after the reign of King David I. They played a role in the consolidation of royal power and the development of centralised authority. Hume Castle was the seat of the powerful Home family.

Hume Castle is situated about 10km from the Anglo-Scottish border and was one of the major defensive sites in the Merse (the eastern section of the Scottish Borders). Its location close to the border is of significance as demonstrated by its use a beacon stance intended to give warning of the approach in case of invasion from England. There are seven recorded castles within 10km of the castle with major English castles, such as Wark, Norham and Etal, on the southern side of the border. The proximity of these sites can give important insights into the distribution and chronology of medieval castles in the region and add to our understanding of the role of castles in protecting the border and border warfare more generally. The distribution of such sites broadens our understanding of the nature of medieval lordship and crown control, social organisation and patterns of land tenure.

The castle is located on what would have always been a strongly defensible site; a flat topped, rocky outcrop with steep surrounding crags. It is a commanding position with views down to the Tweed valley with the Cheviots to the south, past the Eildon Hills to the west and north to the Lammermuirs. The position of the monument in the landscape can enhance our understanding on the reasoning which informed the choice of location for castle building.

The close association of the castle and settlement is of significance. The form of the settlement is typical of medieval settlements with a castle, associated settlement and church (St Nicholas's Church, Canmore ID 58559) in close proximity. However, the survival of contemporary upstanding settlement remains directly associated with a medieval castle is rare. Eldbottle (Scheduled Monument 10352 and Canmore IDs 56653 and 55024) in East Lothian and Rattray (Scheduled Monument 3303 and Canmore IDs 29091 and 29012) in Aberdeenshire are examples of castles with evidence of associated settlements. In both cases the settlement survives as buried remains with no upstanding features, the existence of which have been confirmed through excavation.

The remains of the settlement at Hume are remarkable as they survive as upstanding earth and stone footings. These remains can help inform us of the relationship between Hume Castle, St Nicholas's church and the adjacent settlement, and how it developed over an extended period of time. The association of the castle, church and settlement can enhance our understanding of the relationship between, and role of, the castle with their associated churches and civil settlement in the medieval period.

The remains of the castle were adapted in the late 18th century as an eye-catcher designed to be viewed from the estate of the Earl of Marchmont, which was situated about 5km to the northwest of Hume. It is an example of the growing appreciation during the 18th century of medieval ruins as features within the landscape, particularly as part of a view from a great house of estate. It is an important example of how the development of ideas which divided landscapes into the categories of 'beautiful', 'picturesque' and 'sublime' was practically implemented. The oversized battlements were designed to be seen at a significant distance.

Associative Characteristics

Hume Castle was the seat of the powerful Home family. The family took the name Hume/Home in the early 13th century following a grant of the lands of Hume through Ada, daughter of Patrick 5th earl of Dunbar. Due to prominence of the Home family in the eastern part of the Scottish border, the Lords Home often served as Wardens of the Eastern Marches.

Because of the castle's strategic location on the border, it often had a role in the conflicts between England and Scotland. There is a tradition that Queen Mary of Guelders was staying at the castle in 1460 when James II was killed at the siege of Roxburgh. The castle is particularly well documented during the 16th century, when it played an important role in the 'Rough Wooing' changing hands on a number of occasion. The castle's final demise was in the 17th century when it was besieged by the forces of Oliver Cromwell and subsequently destroyed by his army in 1651.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the date, construction and function of medieval castles and their associated settlements. The monument still retains its field characteristics; the settlement remains in particular are very well preserved. There is significant potential for buried archaeological remain to survive which would further inform us of the chronology, development and use of the castle and settlement. This site can enhance our knowledge of the distribution and chronology of medieval castles along the Anglo-Scottish Border, particularly as the castle played an important role in centuries of cross-border conflict. The surrounding settlement is a very rare example of a castletoun to survive as upstanding remains. It provides excellent potential to enhance our knowledge of the relationship between a castle, church (the seats of secular and spiritual power), and the related settlement. The adaption of the site to form an eye-catcher in the late 18th century is also of significance as a relatively early example of the reuse of medieval ruin as part of the wider setting of a great house. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the character and development of medieval castles, settlement and land tenure in medieval Scotland and the later appreciation of the ruins of such buildings in the 18th century.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE IDs 58551 and 58561 (accessed on 08/11/2017).

Chisholm, W. (1992). Secure future for the Earl of Marchmont's folly [Hume Castle, newscutting], The Scotsman, 11 September 1992.

Coventry, M. (2008). Castles of the Clans: the strongholds and seats of 750 Scottish families and clans. Musselburgh.

Cruden, S. (1963). The Scottish Castle, Studies in History and Archaeology series. Revision. Edinburgh.

Dixon, P. (2016). Hume Castle and deserted medieval village: the application of UAV survey techniques. Historic Environment Scotland.

Eddington, A. (1926). Castles and historic homes of the Border: their traditions and romance. Edinburgh.

Fawcett and Rutherford, R and A. (2011). Renewed Life for Scottish Castles, CBA Research Report 165. York.

Kerr, R. (1809). General view of the agriculture of the county of Berwick, with observations on the means of its improvement, drawn up for the consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement and brought down to the end of 1808. London.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T. (1887-92). The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v. Edinburgh. Pages: Vol.3, 106-9.

Maxwell-Irving, A M T. (2014). The Border Towers of Scotland: their evolution and architecture. Dumfries.

RCAHMS. (1909). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. First report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Berwick. Edinburgh.

RCAHMS. (1915). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Sixth report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Berwick, Revision. Edinburgh.

RCAHMS. (1980). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of Berwickshire District, Borders Region, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series no 10. Edinburgh.

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Hume Castle, view across settlement rectilinear structure footings with castle in background, looking east northeast, during daytime, on rainy day with grey sky.
Hume Castle, view of interior from the beacon stance with remnants of medieval castle walling and well, looking north, during daytime, on a rainy day with grey sky.

Printed: 04/10/2023 16:42